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Bred down in size?


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As a kid, I grew up on a cattle operation with working BC's. Our female was over 50 lbs and our male was close to 60 lbs. Both worked cattle daily and lived to be over 15 YO. Neighbors had working dogs of the same or larger in size. I did not have a dog after High School as I joined the Service and stayed in for 32 years. When I retired and got my first BC Cody, he was 55 plus lbs and around 25-26" at the shoulders. Everyone remarks that he is a huge BC, but he is the classic rough coat black and white type that we had as working dogs back in the late 50's, 60's and early 70's. My second dog is a medium coat red and white male of 40 lbs and around 23" in height. I am told he is large for a working BC by today's standards.

 

When I was a kid the ranchers in our area would not take a smaller dog as they felt the small dogs did not have enough presence to push cattle. Yet now it seems, it is the smaller dogs that are what everyone wants. For sheep the smaller dogs make some sense to me, but when it comes to working semi-wild cattle I would think the larger dogs would have the advantage. What changed?

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I don't think anything has changed drastically, if anything you may be more aware of the different sizes then you were when you were as a kid. The internet has really expanded everyones view, now instead of basing an opinion on a breed of dog based on what we have seen first hand in our area or via travels we can see the far reaches of our country and beyond without leaving our livingrooms. Peoples opinions of general size is also influenced by the circles they keep, if they are from a sport pet circle they will have one opinion or vision of what is normal, and people coming from exclusive sheepdog or cattledog circles may have a different view of the land and then a rancher that keeps to himself out in the Nebraska sandhills may have a totally different vision of what most border collies look like.

 

I believe that you will still find that there is still a regional influeance with dogs displaying simular body types and styles in certain regions, some is based on necessity other is based on the vision of the breeder/user which is impacted by their personal beliefs, some founded some unfounded.

 

I don't believe that larger dogs in general have an advantage on semi-wild cattle, it has more to do with heart (desire) and athletic ability. But a bigger athletic dog that has heart may have an advantage over the long haul over a small petitie athletic dog with heart just based on ability to cover ground and to withstand the impact of the work. The key is that the dog still has to want it and not give up.

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Pretty much what Debbie said. I think BCs have always varied widely in size, perhaps by region, perhaps by local preference. My boy, Nick, is a muscular 49 pounds and while he's considered a "big boy," he's by no means the biggest around. I honestly wouldn't want a 60 pound dog, because I think they can use themselves up faster, simply because they have more bulk to haul around. My 30 pound female almost never runs out of gas, while Nick can tire just because he uses himself like a Marine Corps Humvee. :P

 

One of the toughest BCs I know is Lana Rowley's wee Mint. Bet that dog barely weighs 30 pounds soaking wet, but she's tough as nails and never quits. :)

 

Anyhow, I've seen BCs of both sexes run a very wide gamut of sizes, so I don't think they've been bred down, at all.

 

The only down-breeding I see is the AKC show type, but that's another conversation.

 

~ Gloria

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I recently met a large border collie, say 55-60 pounds, whose owner said he was pretty standard for the Colorado cattle ranching area they were from. Perhaps there are regional differences. And Gloria's right about the mighty Mint!

 

And hey, welcome aboard! ...and there will be no objections to pictures of your two. (hint, hint :lol: )

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My personal guess, based upon my small sample of border collies I know, is that there is a wide variety of sizes, as varied as looks, and who knows what you're going to end up with. I know several working bred border collies who are very small, both male and female. And I know a conformation bred border collie who is at least 55 lbs and about 25" tall. He weighs more than my BC/pitorlaborpointer mix.

 

I do think there are certain breeders who have been purposefully breeding smaller dogs to smaller bitches, in the hopes of getting smaller border collies. The one I'm thinking of is a sport breeder. Working dogs, I think the size is going to be all over the place.

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I'd say it's probably a regional thing too. I get comments all the time like "he's a big dog" about my males, and they're no more than 45 pounds (here in the east). Standing around waiting to run at the Big One trial (north dakota), i noticed that my dogs were shrimps compared to many of the males out there, not all, but many.

 

As for the idea that larger ones are harder on themselves or wear out more quickly, i don't know if i agree with that. Fatter, chunkier ones yes. But a dog with a little larger frame will probably have the athleticism/musculature to go with it, proportionally speaking. I used to think the same thing but i don't see it being true necessarily.

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As for the idea that larger ones are harder on themselves or wear out more quickly, i don't know if i agree with that. Fatter, chunkier ones yes. But a dog with a little larger frame will probably have the athleticism/musculature to go with it, proportionally speaking. I used to think the same thing but i don't see it being true necessarily.

 

I think it's not necessarily the size but something about the individual dog that causes more wear and tear. Taz weighs a lean 44 pounds but is very light on his feet. His uncle Ben has a similar build but is about 8 pounds heavier (not at all fat, also quite lean). When Taz does an outrun, everything is quiet and serene. When Ben does one, the ground feels like it's shaking and you can hear him pounding his feet practically halfway up the field. Taz is a quiet, easy presence; Ben is like a bull in a china shop. Ben's body will probably wear out a little faster than Taz's will, but seems like it's more to do with how he carries himself than his size.

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I think it's not necessarily the size but something about the individual dog that causes more wear and tear. Taz weighs a lean 44 pounds but is very light on his feet. His uncle Ben has a similar build but is about 8 pounds heavier (not at all fat, also quite lean). When Taz does an outrun, everything is quiet and serene. When Ben does one, the ground feels like it's shaking and you can hear him pounding his feet practically halfway up the field. Taz is a quiet, easy presence; Ben is like a bull in a china shop. Ben's body will probably wear out a little faster than Taz's will, but seems like it's more to do with how he carries himself than his size.

 

 

I loooove that white bull!

 

 

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Handsomest bull ever!

 

 

 

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I think it's not necessarily the size but something about the individual dog that causes more wear and tear. Taz weighs a lean 44 pounds but is very light on his feet. His uncle Ben has a similar build but is about 8 pounds heavier (not at all fat, also quite lean). When Taz does an outrun, everything is quiet and serene. When Ben does one, the ground feels like it's shaking and you can hear him pounding his feet practically halfway up the field. Taz is a quiet, easy presence; Ben is like a bull in a china shop. Ben's body will probably wear out a little faster than Taz's will, but seems like it's more to do with how he carries himself than his size.

 

Yes. I too think it depends on the dog. Cedar is the size of a small whippet, being only 26# and 17" tall. But she is fierce, she will never stop until I say so. She will run her heart out and never once give up, no matter what the challenge. Her desire to work far exceeds her size. Cedar is cattle bred and is very similar to her dam's size, as well as a similar work ethic.

 

Cedar's dam working on the ranch (she is very small, maybe shorter than Cedar, but tough as nails)

imgD1SMILEY.jpg

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Talking to a trainer a couple of days ago was what brought me to asking the question. They mentioned that there are some breeders trying to develope a mini-border collie for agility/sports. After seeing what has happened to the Aussie, that just seemed wrong to me in a huge number of ways. I don't know what breed association they work through, but I would have thought even the AKC would keep away from this.

 

I happen to like the bigger BC's. Nothing against the smaller one's working ability, but the best dogs I have seen tended to be the bigger ones. As a number of you pointed out, it may just be a regional thing,

bigger dogs are preferred in some areas and smaller ones in other areas.

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I think it's not necessarily the size but something about the individual dog that causes more wear and tear

 

Totally agree!

Mick is a thundering fool when he runs, you know he's coming before you see him.

Dew is not quite as bad but you can still hear her.

Raven seemed to glide over the ground when she ran, no one can hear her coming.

 

Seems that the heavier the carry themselves, the more wear and tear shows down the line.

 

Raven is 12 or so, hardly shows age on her body. Jazz is 15, the wear and tear on her body will be her demise. :(

 

Size doesn't seem to be an issue. My heaviest dog is Mick, who hoovers around 40ish lbs. Sheep know he means business, but I think it has nothing to do with size.

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